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Honda to develop Brio/Amaze-based Compact SUV for India

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(Pic source: autoinfoz.com)

Honda will not be bringing its attractive looking Vezel SUV to India. The Jazz-based SUV (codename: 2XP) that was unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show in November 2013 seemed perfect for our market, and there were plans to bring it here by 2015, but those plans have now been dropped.

A major reason for this decision is the fact that the rupee has lost 20 percent of its strength in just two years, considerably driving up the Vezel’s cost. It would have had to be priced at around Rs 16 lakh in India, making it significantly more expensive than its competition – the Renault Duster, Nissan Terrano and Ford EcoSport, which set the benchmark for prices in this segment.

“My impression is that the Vezel is a little expensive to fit into this vacuum. It has technologically advanced features and the localisation of these features would take much more effort and expense, making it difficult for us at this moment,” said Yoshiyuki Matsumoto, managing officer Asia and Oceania, explaining the challenges Honda will face in filling the void between the City and the CR-V with the Vezel.

As an example, he said, “The Vezel employs an electric handbrake that will take a lot more effort and investment to locally design and manufacture. Moreover, swapping this for a regular handbrake will involve a fair deal of redesign and engineering costs, and isn’t viable.” Inside sources also revealed that the Vezel’s cockpit is quite expensive, making it difficult to price it competitively.

The good news is that the company is now evaluating the Honda Brio’s platform for an all-new compact SUV. Developed specifically for emerging markets, this platform is relatively inexpensive and hence, can allow Honda to price the SUV competitively. Honda has already stretched this platform for the Amaze compact saloon and further still for the Mobilio MPV, displaying its flexibility to accommodate a longer wheelbase.

-Autocar India.

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Honda's talk about the electronic brake seems like we are living in a pre-historic world. Money talks as always, and the present market is not encouraging for manufacturers to take any bold steps. I think most are just hanging on hoping for a turn around of the market, as India still has a lot of potential for growth.

I would like to see another compact SUV in this price bracket, and it will certainly up the game. But I hope they do a serious re-think of the design for the SUV and it won't be anything like the current Amaze. That would be prove to be a disaster, SUVs have a certain character and hope they would not overlook this when clouded by the "cost-cutting" mantra!

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IMHO, Brio-based compact SUV will not be more than raised Brio on bigger wheels with huge cladding & other macho elements added. Maximum it can be their Mobilio MPV chopped to duck under 4-meters mark to avail the excise benefits.

But if it has to be called as an SUV, then it needs to have some additional stiffness & body reinforcements than Brio to do its desired task. 1.5 i-DTEC diesel engine is already welcomed but better sound insulation & better interiors together can make the package more tempting, specially to the price range to which it's going to cater, almost double on which it's going to be based i.e Brio.

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Honda should be inspired by the Ecosport, which is essentially a hatch on steroids, but has a character and identity of its own. It can attract customers who opt for hatches, saloons and even other more grown-up SUVs. That is the success mantra of the Ecosport. It might be a pain to invest so much in times like these, but it would certainly work wonders for Honda. Honda has a rock-solid reputation and they could certainly shake up the Ecosport from its comfy position with the right product. All this healthy competition would benefit the Indian consumer who would have a range of world-class options to choose from, well within one's budget.

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Honda Brio Crossover, rendering:

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Since Honda has confirmed that they're coming up with compact SUV based on Brio platform by 2016.

Meanwhile to plug the gap why not to launch this car as early as possible in India, since VW has already done it by launching Cross Polo, Maruti Suzuki is going to do this next year by launching next-gen SX4 crossover hatch, Fiat is also doing the same in the form of Punto crossover, Toyota might soon join the party with Etios Liva crossover, since they're already having it in Brazil.

Based on market reports & surveys, if these crossovers have sustainable market here, It can be launched quite easily by mildly adapting it by;

-Raising its ground clearance & adding taller struts to it.

-Adding bigger wheels & tyres, even 175section from Honda City can do the job fine.

-Most importantly optional 1.5 i-DTEC Diesel engine from Amaze compact sedan.

-Plastic cladding & additional kits on its bumpers.

-Spruced up interior elements with mock Carbon-fibre finished console elements.

-Other milder additions.

Since these features make the car make & feel robust, by retaining its key virtues like small size, nimble character & sub 4-meters length, which along with 1.5 Diesel engine option will make it very competitively priced.

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I have just purchased Honda Amaze and have been looking at the post on the Facebook Honda car India, the page has become complaint forum. The customers are not at all happy with the dealers and the Honda company officials.

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